Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Tennessee delegation opposes pace, path of health reform
By Bill Theobald • TENNESSEAN WASHINGTON BUREAU • September 8, 2009 WASHINGTON — The nation may be in turmoil over what Congress should do about reforming health care, but there's surprising consensus among members of the Tennessee delegation as they return from their summer recess today. None of the five Middle Tennessee House members — four Democrats and one Republican — and neither of the state's two Republican senators favors creating a government-run health insurance option as outlined in legislative proposals. The option would compete with private insurers to keep health-care costs down. And they agree that Congress should slow down and focus on several issues where there appears to be bipartisan agreement — at least within the Tennessee delegation. "We've proved we haven't done comprehensive very well in Congress," said Sen. Lamar Alexander, who called for a more incremental approach. Members band together They agree on the need to: • Eliminate the use of pre-existing medical conditions as a reason to deny people insurance coverage. • Create cross-state insurance pools for small businesses and individuals to make insurance more affordable. • Ensure that people aren't forced off their health insurance when a serious illness strikes. When they return, members of the Tennessee delegation will be looking to two sources for the path forward on health reform. One is the Senate Finance Committee, whose members are trying to reach a bipartisan compromise. The second and more significant is President Barack Obama, who on Wednesday will deliver a speech to a joint session of Congress, laying out details of what he wants done. "I think the president needs to be sensitive to the opinion of the American people because they have spoken loud and clear," said Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Nashville.
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